A "Smart" Collaboration: Connecting Consumers to Community and Medicine During a Pandemic

Initiative Description

The Aging and Disability Resource Center for central Texas, Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG), identified the Texas Technology Access Program (TTAP), the state assistive technology program, as an entity that could assist in reducing isolation by increasing virtual connections and using technology to mitigate the effects of the pandemic among elders, persons with disabilities, and their caregivers. CAPCOG applied for and received some of the emergency funding outlined in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Through the use of these funds in a Health and Human Services Inter-agency collaboration, TTAP facilitated social connectivity and isolation reduction by providing access to conventional and assistive technology (AT), information communication technology (ICT), and tele-health devices. Two versions of the "smart connection" kit were made available for a 35-day check-out period. One version was Apple based and contained an iPad, Zigbee smart plug adaptors, and an Echo Show 10. The Android version contained a Samsung tablet and a Google Nest Mini. Each kit contained a Phillips Hue bluetooth kit, Ring doorbell, battery backup, Kardia Mobile, distance thermometer, oximeter, and blood pressure cuff. The kits were originally reserved for the CAPCOG consumers; CAPCOG serves 10 counties in Texas. After the official collaboration period ended, the kits rotated into TTAP's general loan library.

Lessons Learned/Replication

Though we offered training for the devices by phone, online, or in person, we could have advertised the training more. In addition, extra funding for training could be made available to combat consumers' hesitation to try new technology.

Year of Implementation

2021

State

Texas

Initiative contact information

Anita Swanson
anita.swanson@austin.utexas.edu